Tucker Carlson was on vacation last week as Republican disinformation about the IRS really took off, but on Monday, he made up for lost time.
To recap, Republicans have been falsely claiming that the Biden administration planned, using funding from the Inflation Reduction Act, to hire 87,000 IRS “agents.” They often point to an already existing job listing for an IRS criminal investigation agent and to IRS expenditures on ammunition in 2022, without mentioning that 2022 is not much out of line with recent years on that front. Not content with just plain lying, Republicans are using those lies to fear-monger in a way that we already know incites violence—they’ve even used some of the same language they used about the FBI in the days after it searched Mar-a-Lago and before an armed man attacked an FBI office.
RELATED STORY: GOP now trying to incite violence against IRS agents
Carlson explicitly tied his Monday rant about the IRS to his rant about the Mar-a-Lago search. The latter was part of President Joe Biden’s “war on his own population,” according to Carlson, despite the extreme care taken to follow proper procedure and the seriousness of what the Justice Department seems to be investigating.
As for the former, according to Carlson, “just in case you missed the theme here, they're hiring another 87,000 armed IRS agents just to make sure that you obey. Got it?”
Just to make sure that you obey. Well ... if you are a wealthy person or corporation evading taxes, then it will be more likely you are audited, which might be scary to the average wealthy tax cheat. But Carlson’s clear message was not “auditors might find out that households with incomes over $400,000 may not be able to finesse their way to lower taxes,” it was “armed agents are coming to your house to harm you.” Which is a lie.
Carlson’s lie even came after Fox News White House correspondent Jacqui Heinrich debunked the lies about the IRS in a Twitter thread over the weekend, Media Matters’ Matt Gertz notes.
The Inflation Reduction Act will allow the IRS to hire 87,000 more staff over a period of years. Those hires will include customer service workers, auditors, clerical workers, and more. Many of the “new” hires will actually be replacing workers who retired or quit. The criminal investigation division of the agency has a total of 3,000 workers, about two out of three of whom are agents. From these basics, Carlson and other Republicans have gotten these threats about armed agents “making sure you obey” or, as Sen. Chuck Grassley suggested, “Are they going to have a strike force that goes in with AK-15s … ready to shoot some small business person in Iowa?”
Republicans—including elected Republicans, even extremely senior senators like Grassley—have been inciting violence against the IRS as they already successfully did against the FBI. Tucker Carlson distilled all the lies and took them to his huge platform. I’d say this is not going to stop until there’s violence against IRS employees, but that would be optimistic—there’s no reason to believe that would stop Carlson.
RELATED STORY: Attack on FBI office is a logical outcome of extreme rhetoric by Republicans after Mar-a-Lago search